Live in flip flooring issue; tips, tricks, solutions?

20 Replies

My husband and I are currently in our 3rd live in flip. 6 bed, 3 bath, on 5 acres. We’ve FINALLY, after 3 years of remodeling on weekends, got the house & land completely done except flooring & baseboards for the 1st floor (about 1500 sq ft). I was especially elated to see the light at the end of the tunnel on this reno as I’m currently pregnant with our second child, and had both hoped to be able to help my husband complete this job before I’m huge, and actually have a done house by the time baby # 2 arrives.

We planned to put wood look tile throughout the bottom floor. We bought the house off market from a couple who started the reno and got in over their heads. One thing they did was diy stain the concrete slab after they ripped up the original hardwood (I could slap them).

In looking into prep for the tile, everything we are seeing says we need to sand down the slab until we get off ALL the stain. This is a huge, and obviously messy, job we were not anticipating having to do.

Desperately seeking out any tips, tricks, or solutions those more experienced than us in this would recommend to prep the floor for tile in the most cost effective way; keeping in mind the rest of the house is finished, so we are trying to minimize damage to cabinets/drywall etc.

If we have to do LVP we will, but it’s not ideal for the neighborhood/resale for this particular home, and my husband has concerns about install as the previous owners also put in ikea cabinets when they started the kitchen reno, and he says there isn’t a good way to have a floating floor around the cabinets that wouldn’t result in them eventually pulling away etc.

Thanks in advance for any solutions or suggestions your willing to offer.

Rustoleum has an epoxy for garage floors that used to require sanding if the concrete was previously stained or painted...but now they have a primer to scrub the floor with before use. 

I wonder if something like that (or that exact product) would work? I would probably find out the why it works for the epoxy, and the why stain doesn't work with the epoxy without the primer/cleaner, and find out why the stain won't work with the tile mud. Then see if there are enough commonalities, if the chemistry is right, then call the product lines and ask a lot of questions once you have the right details. Because an off-label use would probably result in a "no" based on liability, but if you have all of the factors you might get a helpful chemist to reply and give their $.02

@Alyssa K.

There is a product called redgard

https://www.custombuildingproducts.com/products/surface-preparation/waterproofing-membranes-underlayments/redgard.aspx#

This is used to seal walls before applying tile. It has a very good adhesion as well. Possibly this could be used to help with adhesion.

If the floor is only stained I don't see why a good etching with acid wouldn't open the concrete pools again as well for the mortar to stick.

If the floors have a clear coat no matter what you put on top its only going to bond as strong as the clear coat bonds to concrete so it may need to be removed.

You can test clear coat adhesion by scoring an X in the floor then placing gorilla tape or similar over the X and see if anything pulls up.

@Craig Parsons the concrete does have a clear coat, but not a good one by any means. When we had our granite countertop installed the installers put sticky plastic down to “protect” the floors, and when it was removed it ripped the clear coat clean off in the areas my daughter had been playing with the air pockets.

@Craig Parsons I think it could certainly be possible, we have a floor scrapper so I can try that this evening. I know small bits have come off anytime I’ve used a razor blade to get off paint or grout throughout the renovation. My only worry on that if it works would be consistency if we run into areas that it won’t scrap from since it’s such a large surface area.

Do you by chance know of a solvent that we could apply that would help break down or dissolve the clear coat?

I’ll go around peeling it off with duct tape if I have to, haha.

If we were able to get the clear coat off, that would be sufficient to allow the mortar to stick?

@Alyssa K.

If you get the clear coat off muriatic acid wash should suffice (check with mortar company)

Usually what happens with these things is 90% easily comes off but the last 10% is a pain.

You could try Jasco paint remover but that is a bit messy especially for expectant mothers. That's why I think scraping is preferable. You could also rent a floor sander for the hard spots with 36 grit paper should make short work if it as well

@Alyssa K.

Honestly, I would just go with the LVP. Removing the clear coat and any residue left behind will be a giant pain. You may not get it all, which means you will likely have tile popping loose in the future.

If the kitchen cabinets are IKEA, the toe kick should be removable. Pop is off, run the LVP underneath. The rip the toe kick down and pop it back on. If you need to you can add a shoe mold to cover up the gap at the bottom. Waaayyyy less headache than removing the coatings from the concrete.

@Alyssa K.,

Use the Rustoleum Clean & Etch or Cleaner/Degreaser products already mentioned, then use one of the waterproofing paintable/crack isolation membranes already mentioned by @Craig Parsons , RedGard or Laticrete HydroBarrier. Do two coats of that: it's a bit expensive, but it will save you money in the end. Tile over that when the membrane dries using a good modified mortar -- looking at Home Depot's line of Custom mortars, I would stay away from something like VersaBond here and go with the more expensive FlexBond for this application. Again, the extra money spent on the membrane and the stickier/harder mortar ends up paying off here.

The only realistic exception to this advice would be if you have big cracks all over this concrete slab -- but if you had anything sizable enough to worry about, you probably would have mentioned it already.

Originally posted by @Dave E. :

@Alyssa K.

Honestly, I would just go with the LVP. Removing the clear coat and any residue left behind will be a giant pain. You may not get it all, which means you will likely have tile popping loose in the future.

If the kitchen cabinets are IKEA, the toe kick should be removable. Pop is off, run the LVP underneath. The rip the toe kick down and pop it back on. If you need to you can add a shoe mold to cover up the gap at the bottom. Waaayyyy less headache than removing the coatings from the concrete.

 I agree. If the prep work isn't done properly, the tile will pop up and that is really bad. I don't think wood look tile is any more premium than a good quality LVP. You will also find LVP is more comfortable to walk and stand on, which is important in a kitchen. As mentioned, a molding should cover for expansion and contraction. 

Why not leave the stained concrete and just redo/patch it? It's a great look when done right.

I hate vinyl floors, what about engineered wood? You can find good quality for $2 SF....

@Alyssa K. Custom building products and mapei both offer a pre-tile primer. I believe it is designed to adhere to non porous surfaces like old tile or in your case sealed concrete and allow you to tile over the surface. Never tried it but both are top companies and I would not hesitate...custom has a tech line that I have used on multiple occasions for questions. But I also agree that lvp is an excellent choice. Beautiful options, warm and softer than tile, easy install and easy removal. Just not as bulletproof.

@Marian Smith agree that there are primers available, but you definitely need to check to make sure they work for the coating that you have on your concrete. Otherwise you just spent time and money on a primer and still have tile that is popping up.

@Alyssa K. Floor and Decor sells this stuff called Mapei Eco Prim grip that you can paint over pretty much anything. Designed to take thinset so you can tile over any existing surface. Check it out. I’ve used it, works great.

Yeah. The dust is horrific, but the finished product is undeniable. Proper PPE is a must. Alternatively, hire a company that utilizes dust collectors with the grinders.

Like others have stated, you can add whatever you want to the top of the clear coat. It will likely adhere and be fine. However, if the clear coat didn’t adhere to the concrete properly, it’s coming up. Is it worth skipping a step and possibly having to redo it in 5-10 years or doing it the right way now. That’s always the question

Originally posted by @Greg Henderson :

Is it worth skipping a step and possibly having to redo it in 5-10 years or doing it the right way now. That’s always the question

 Exactly! I never trust any method except taking it down to the original surface....

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